Greensboro, NC -- A Greensboro family is mourning the loss of their son who was killed in Iraq. Friends are also dealing with the news.
Family members say 23-year-old David Hickman was killed Monday while serving in U.S. Army operations in Iraq.
Late Wednesday, the US Department of Defense (DOD) confirmed that Spc. David E. Hickman died in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered after encountering an improvised explosive device (IED). DOD said he was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, out of Fort Bragg, NC.
Friends have planned a vigil for Hickman at his former high school in Greensboro. The candlelight vigil is schedule for Sunday, November 19 at Northeast High's football stadium. Candles will be provided.
SLIDESHOW - David Hickman, Hero From Greensboro
Tuesday, his mother, Veronica Hickman, said they were informed by the Army David had died Monday morning. "I am proud of him," said Veronica. "He died for his country."
David Hickman was a 2006 graduate of Northeast Guilford High School. He played outside linebacker for the football team and was team captain and All-Conference.
"David was just a real good all around person that we really thought a lot of," said coach Tommy Pursley, who has coached many students over the years. "Some of them you really have to think hard to remember who they were and what they look like and exactly who you're thinking about, but David's definitely not that."
David's parents said he attended Ferrum College with the hopes of playing Division 3 football. They said he joined the military after being "red shirted".
He served two years in the Army and obtained the rank of E-4.
Veronica said she got the opportunity to talk with David on Sunday. She is thankful for that last call and gives a message to all families.
"People out in the world that have kids, family, just tell each other that you love each other. You never know what might happen."
David was also an accomplished black belt. He trained for several years with Mike King, who runs the Greensboro Black Belt Academy.
"You hear a lot of times people were genuine but I mean truly, just, if he asked you how you were doing, he want to know how you were doing," said King. "There are certain people we teach and we train that over time you somewhat let them slip out of your mind but David is just one of those people that you always have a good thought about."
They have a memorial garden outside the martial arts facility and plan to plant something in David's honor.
David's good friend, Logan Trainum, said, "He's just the most genuine person I ever met."
"He wasn't typical, you know. He was a true original which you don't find very often now," he added. "I find myself picking up the phone and there's nobody to dial anymore."
David was supposed to come back to the U.S. December 1.
Trainum said, "It's not fair. He was so close to coming home."